Flooring—such as carpeting, tile, or terrazzo—can drastically change the look and feel of a home. Hardwood flooring is a popular choice: it warms up a room, goes with any home décor, is durable, and can be used for any room. There are several types of hardwood flooring to choose from, such as oak, maple, cherry, bamboo, or reclaimed wood flooring. Here’s an overview of the different types of flooring available.
Solid vs. engineered hardwood flooring
Solid hardwood flooring is all wood; it comes 5/8 to 3/4 inches thick. It can be sanded and refinished many times since it’s solid wood. Solid wood is susceptible to changes in humidity, so it’s not recommended for below-grade basements.
That’s where engineered hardwood comes in. Engineered hardwood flooring is a veneer of real wood bonded to several layers of wood underneath, like plywood. This prevents the floor from shifting during expansion and contraction cycles. Engineered wood flooring a good choice for below-grade basements and any area of your home.
Engineered hardwood flooring can only be sanded and refinished once or twice during its lifetime, depending on the hardwood veneer’s thickness.
Prefinished vs. site-finished hardwood flooring
Prefinished hardwood flooring comes from the factory already sanded and sealed. This means the whole installation job goes quickly because there’s no need to apply color or sealant. The floor is ready to walk on immediately, and there are no odors and VOCs from finishing on-site.
With site-finished hardwood flooring (unfinished hardwood flooring), you have more control over the stain and sheen. It’s a good option if you want to have a custom stain applied before the final finish, or if you want to match the color of existing flooring. Plus, the final product will be smoother since unfinished flooring is typically sanded after it’s nailed down and then finished as a single continuous plane.
Floor styles, types, and species
Flooring comes in a variety of colors, grain patterns, and hardnesses. For rooms that get heavy foot traffic (kitchens, entryways), you should choose a hard wood (such as oak or hickory) instead of a soft pine. Rooms without as much foot traffic, like the bedroom or home office, can handle softer woods like black cherry or walnut.
The best hardwood floors are made with wood species that are readily available and very hard, such as oak, maple, and cherry. Exotic species like teak, jarrah, and mesquite are more expensive, and you should check to ensure that the hardwood flooring comes from sustainably harvested forests.
Oak is the most common wood floor used in North America, and it’s widely available across the region, leading to reasonable prices. Oak flooring is durable, takes stain very well, highly resistant to dents and deep scratches, and has an appealing natural grain. White oak is especially popular because it doesn’t have the pinkish tones of red oak.
Walnut hardwood flooring is a natural choice when you want a richer, warmer tone. It’s softer than oak, but its deep color makes it a perfect fit for rooms that need a darker finish. European walnut is lighter in color and slightly finer in texture than American black walnut.
While bamboo isn’t hardwood (it’s a form of grass), many associate it with hardwood flooring. Bamboo is harder than most hardwoods. Bamboo comes in two shades—its natural light-colored tint or a darker look (from being boiled, or carbonized).
Pine also isn’t hardwood; it’s a character wood. Pine is the softwood most frequently used in flooring. You can typically get pine for half the cost of oak, and in many cases, pine costs even less than vinyl flooring.
Cork comes from the bark of cork oak trees found in the Mediterranean. Cork comes from seven countries including Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Morocco, and France. Cork is soft underfoot, a natural insulator, and a good sound absorber.
Maple hardwood is an elegant pale, creamy color with minor variations in color and grain from board to board. Maple’s grain pattern is more subtle than others and can’t absorb dark stains very well. Maple is often used in bowling alleys because of the curly grain’s hardness.
Cherry flooring is one of the most common hardwoods in America. Cherry hardwood is very hard to work with, but it looks as good as any other type after it’s sanded, and it darkens as it ages. It produces a great finish and is easy to maintain, but it can be easily scratched.
Brazilian Cherry, also known as Jatoba, is one of the most popular of exotic wood species used for flooring. The color variations from red to blond to deep red add a unique statement to your home. Its sturdy nature and affordable price make it a popular choice among exotic hardwoods.
Eucalyptus hardwood flooring is stylish and elegant. Plus, its fast growth and high availability makes it eco-friendly and budget-friendly.
Mahogany is a highly durable, water-resistant hardwood. It has a classic and timeless look. Mahogany’s rich, lavish reddish brown tones, paired with its exceptional strength make it an elegant selection that is very popular for busy homes and businesses alike.
Lyptus is harder than oak and is easy to mill and finish. Lyptus looks like mahogany, but it’s less expensive.
Ash is very similar to oak, but adds a bit of excitement with its more unique grain patterns. Ash can be differentiated from hickory by white dots in the darker summerwood. It’s often less expensive than comparable hardwoods.
Hickory is more common in rustic or log homes because it has one of the hardest exteriors. It’s perfect for homeowners who expect a lot of foot traffic over the years. Hickory flooring goes well with all designs.
Rosewood has unique grain patterns, and its colors range from light yellow to purple.
Distressed Wide Planks
Wide-plank flooring is popular because of its beauty and fewer seams. You can choose a distressed wood if you want a rustic, aged look.
Reclaimed wood brings a luxurious look to your home and can be incorporated in traditional and contemporary spaces. Salvage flooring is also a good choice if you’re renovating an older home.
Chicagloand Hardwood Flooring Expertise
Each wood species, type, and style comes with its own characteristics. If you’re looking to get your floors renovated and want to discuss the different flooring options, call M Craft today at 847-460-8477.
M Craft, a family-owned business of wood floor installers and hardwood floor refurbishers, has served Naperville and Chicagoland for twenty years. We’ve built our company with a simple mission: deliver an outstanding product with superb service while respecting customers and demonstrating a hardworking, professional attitude at all times.